After my post yesterday, I received a suggestion from Child Central Station about trying to explode a plastic bag with baking soda and vinegar. My daughter in seventh grade suggested we blow up a balloon with the reaction.
Today was a glorious warm day, so we celebrated by staying outside all morning. We decided to bring our experimenting outside with us.
So out came the trays and the huge amounts of baking soda and vinegar, along with the new additions of skinny bottles, balloons and plastic sandwich bags.
It was interesting to see that the children remembered the experimenting from yesterday and most went right to the dumping of all of their vinegar into the cup of baking soda, rather than the "sprinkle it on the lid" method they had used when they first started.
After a little exploring that way, we set out to blow up the balloons. Well, getting baking soda into a bottle is an interesting feat with four year olds. I should have had a small funnel.
The next hurdle to pass is getting the balloon on the top as soon as the vinegar is poured before the CO2 escapes. And if your balloon has a hole it in the result is a geyser! Hence the smell, as I was in the direct firing line of the vinegar explosion from several torn balloons.
Letting the children explore that further was interesting. They tried to sprinkle more baking soda and vinegar on top of the balloon to get a reaction. It is critical at times like this to simply observe and ask probing questions rather than correct. Some of the world's most important inventions have come from people thinking outside the box. My goal was not for these children to go home with a firm understanding of what causes CO2 to form; it was to learn about the process of experimenting. We try something, we watch, we try again.
The plastic bag was really cool and truly experimental as we played with amounts of baking soda and vinegar needed for the bag to actually explode. This really should have been a video insert here, as getting the bag closed while the reaction is happening is comical. After a few tries of this, I was absolutely covered in baking soda and vinegar. It was in my shoes, on my coat and in my hair.
But as I have said before, “a dirty kid is a happy kid”, and when I am exploring exciting science with my students, I get to be a happy kid.
I simply had to ignore the wrinkled noses as I ran errands in the afternoon.